Supreme Women Don’t Fail Us Now (again)
It was painful last week to hear the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court in McCullen v Coakley, siding with abortion protesters’ free speech right to engage women face-to face in the public square and against those advocating for clinics’ privacy and public safety in consideration of the violence, bombings, and cold-blooded murder that beset them long before there was anything akin to a buffer zone. The case ended the a 35-foot buffer zone in Massachusetts, didn’t rule on a handful of other states that had smaller buffer zones, and, the reasoning of each justice varied wildly.
Abortion has been legal in this country for 40 years (Roe v Wade , 1973), but discrimination against women has been rising at a fast pace due to the machinations of the explosive theocratic fundamentalist’s discrimination politics that are strangling government, and, it seems, the once-hallowed Supreme Court. Because it would be impossible to reverse Roe v Wade in the courts, the Court is giving these abortion protesters free reign to take it out on women they don’t know.
Why can the Supreme Court itself establish such a wide, no-free-speech buffer around its building (hundreds of square feet, for “decorum and public safety”), and Westboro Baptist Church haters now cannot cross a large buffer zone surrounding veterans funerals, but abortion clinics’ bombs, maiming, and death somehow are not worthy?
Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick puts it this way . .
While the decision is not monumentally awful in ways some progressives most feared, and certainly affords the state substantial latitude in its future attempts to protect women seeking abortions from harassment, more than anything it seems to reflect a continued pattern of “free speech for me but not for thee” or, at least, “free speech for people who think like me,” that pervades recent First Amendment decisions at the court. . .
. . . Right now, the commentary is pretty predictably split between those who believe that the rights of “peaceful sidewalk counselors” were vindicated, and those who believe those counselors are actually pro-life bullies. The court opts for the gentle counseling characterization, without acknowledging that it was the extreme conduct of the latter group that led to passage of the law, and that, realistically, in the absence of the buffer zone, both types of protesters will be greatly emboldened. I guess from here on in, you won’t know whether you are being intimidated or “gently counseled” until after it’s happened.
This is outright discrimination politics interfering with what should have been a privacy and public safety issue. These are not sweet grandmas trying to talk gently to urge women not to go through with the abortion, these are hellions bent on intimidation based solely on their own personal view of abortion although abortion is something that is entirely legal in this country.
Andrew Gouveia wrote a heart-wrenching op-ed last week in Time magazine, and other horror stories are making the rounds as most women stand in shock that there was no dissent, even from our fellow women on the Court. What were they thinking? I guess we’ll have to wait for their memoirs.
It may be fanciful to think these same women Justices have struck a deal to create a majority tomorrow, Monday, in rejecting Hobby Lobby’s efforts to make corporations exempt from providing health insurance that covers contraceptives (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby) just like some religious entities right now. Under the Affordable Care Act, employers must cover free contraception for women in employee health plans. It is possible, the Court may rule to restrict the exemption to only tightly held private corporations but this would still create a very slippery slope, and set a bad precedent for women’s rights. In their March deliberations, the Justices themselves wondered out loud whether this exemption would let these same companies to disallow coverage for other things such as blood transfusion because their religious beliefs disallow them. And what about protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees?
The possibility of a deal in the works to protect reproductive health for women, might make sense for a court already smeared by some of their bad decisions. It is just a strand of hope against the possibility of another savage and bloody run against human rights.
I’m going to sleep tonight with that strand of hope still alive, that this Supreme Court, especially the women Justices, will find its way to stand up for the law, in this case the Affordable Care Act’s provisions, and the rights of women to control their own health.
However, we have to ask again, what are they thinking?
For more on what’s at stake tomorrow, click here.
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